A comprehensive form of exercise, Surya Namaskar is seen as a means to a healthy body, an overall fitness program with breath, gaze, lock and form in yoga. Juxtaposed to cardio exercises, Sun Salutations has yet, met no equal when it comes to fast paced approach that targets the whole body in just a few steps in yoga. Breaking down the meaning of Surya Namaskar, it translates for bowing down to the ultimate source of power, the Sun. It is the reason for causation of every action on planet Earth. Sun seems to be center of the wheel, while we are pivoting around it to fulfill our tasks. Imagine a day without the divine light of the sun washing our planets with its rays, how would it be?
Incorporated by yogis, sages and adepts in their routine from several millennia, the powerful combination of Sun Salutation with its 12 steps allows the body’s cycle to get in coordination with the sun’s cycle, which runs at about 12and a quarter year. Paving a pathway through the physical body, with sun salutations we enter into a higher plane for spiritual growth. But due to our limited understanding of this modality, we are often stuck in the loop of physical gratification.
History & Origin of Surya Namaskar
A complete form of Surya Namaskars includes 12 postures, mantra of each pose, breath & gaze. Many tales have been attached to the origin of Surya Namaskars. The Sun’s rays are considered to be pure, cleansing and empowering, in order to receive these energies, Raja of Aundh in his kingdom, now in Maharashtra, made a mandate in all schools to practice sun salute series and also published a book for the same. He requested all the people in his kingdom to practice this every day in order to tap into the energies of the sun. This series was led to adoption of sun salutations in different parts of India with slight variation.
Another Vedic story mentions that the sun & its shiny exterior intrigued Lord Hanuman when he was a child & he imagined it to be a juicy mango. So out of his innocence & curiosity, he decided to swallow it. With his supernatural power he stretched his hand and took the sun & swallowed it. This lead to a ruckus in the universe and everything went haywire.
The demigods or devtas came to Hanuman and urged him to let the sun go. He obeyed. Since then sun and hanuman had a bad rapport. As he was growing up, Hanuman’s mother asked him to go to the sun for education and take him as his guru. He went to the sun and convinced him to take him as his disciple. As the sun had a busy schedule Hanuman accepted to run backwards with him on his journey, facing the sun and moving with him. In a week’s time, Hanuman learnt everything and he asked sun what he wanted as a payment for his teachings. Sun refused to take anything and so Hanuman said that he wants to show his gratitude in form of Namaskars or Salutes to the Sun. This is referred to as Sun Salutations now.
Benefits of Surya Namaskars
The practitioner can experience a wide range of benefits of Surya Namaskars. To list a few:
- World is cyclical and we are stuck in the cycle of Samsara (world). In order to allow the body to become a stepping-stone for spiritual growth, Surya Namaskars breaks the cyclical pattern of the worldly action, to allow the practitioner to realize his true nature to be free.
- It is advised to practice Sun Salutation at the break of the dawn, as the sun’s rays are the subtlest & highly empowering then in comparison to the whole day. A regular early morning practice can remove diseases, enhance the flow of the blood in the body & boost immunity.
- Many people look at Sun Salutation as a tool to lose weight. An all round tool, a fast paced Sun Salutation series acts as a form of cardio, working from head to toe, giving great results when it comes to toning the body & shedding extra flab.
- Known for enhancing the breathing capabilities, the practice helps in bringing evenness in breathing system. Also, increases the capacity of the lungs.
- Calming the nervous system, it also removes anxiety & stress from their mind, increases concentration along with reinvigorating & rejuvenating the body.
- A strengthening routine, Sun Salutation increases the endurance level of the body & stamina. Shoulders, arms, legs, back, everything falls under the purview of Sun Salutations.
- Also, poses like Cobra pose, Downward dog etc. works on the spine and increases its flexibility. It makes the practitioner work deeply on the spinal muscles and removes back ache.
- It stimulates various glands in the body and with just a bit of an extra attention to these glands like thyroid glands, pineal gland etc. much can be achieved. Women suffering from irregular mensuration cycles, inability to conceive or cramps during mensuration can practice Surya Namaskars as well.
- Working on a deeper level, it activates the heart chakra, root chakra, solar plexus, throat chakra and sacral chakra. Therefore, it aids in smoothening the movement of these spiritual wheels, thereby activating them & improving the spiritual flow of energy.
Maximize the effects of Surya Namaskars
Here are some ways that will help you receive the benefits of Surya Namaskars easily & clearly.
- Rub all the sweat back on your body that comes out during the practice of Surya Namaskars to increase the body glow, blood circulation and absorbing the energy generated.
- Bathe after an hour or more after the practice, as it helps you to assimilate the energy into your body.
- Drink a lot of water after the practice to compensate for the water loss and avoid dehydration.
- Take a bath with cold water or slightly lower than the room temperature. As it will allow the body to increase the intercellular space from the cells, allowing a greater level of healing & charging of the cell and maintaining youthfulness.
All these steps allow the practitioner to experience great bliss with the help of Sun Salutations. Also, when you know the benefits of Surya Namaskars, you think about them while practicing Sun Salutation, thereby allowing the benefits to manifest more quickly & effectively.